A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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Rippell (vii cent.); Repell (xiii cent.); Ryppull (xiv–xv cent.).
The parish of Ripple, lying in the south of the county on the borders of Gloucestershire, formerly included the now separate ecclesiastical parish of Queenhill with Holdfast formed in 1880 (fn. 1) on the opposite side of the Severn. Part of Ripple was transferred to Earl's Croome in 1884 and at the same date Twyning Meadow was transferred from Ripple to Twyning (Gloucs.). (fn. 2) The present parish of Ripple is on the left bank of the Severn, which divides it from Upton upon Severn and Queenhill. The parish is also watered by the Horse Brook and its continuation the Ripple Brook.
Ripple is a long, narrow parish, and with Queenhill and Holdfast covers an area of 3,847 acres, which includes 1,214 acres of arable land, 2,064 of permanent grass and 10 of woods and plantations. (fn. 3) On the banks of the Severn the land lies very low and is liable to floods, being in some places not more than 31 ft. above the ordnance datum. The highest point is 100 ft. in the north, near Earl's Croome. The soil and subsoil are gravel and grey sandstone.
The village, which is on the Ripple Brook, extends into Twyning (Gloucs.), and has a station on the Midland railway. In the centre of the village of Ripple is a cross standing to nearly its full height, with the stocks and whipping-post beside it within a railing. Remains of three other crosses exist in the village, two in the churchyard and one near the rectory. (fn. 4)
The rectory, to the north-east of the churchyard, is a fine square building of early 18th-century date (1726) and contains at its north-east angle considerable remains of 15th-century walling, while in the cellars are several fragments of 12th-century stonework and a chimney-breast apparently of 15th-century date. In the village, near the cross, is Ripple Hall, the residence of Miss Behrens, a good half-timbered house of the type commonly built in South Worcestershire at the end of the 15th and during the 16th century. It has recently been stripped of the ivy which obscured it and judiciously repaired. The hamlet of Uckinghall is extremely picturesque, and contains many cottages of half-timber with thatched roofs. At the cross-roads at the south end of the settlement is the base and lower part of the octagonal stem of a cross, probably of the 15th century, but now much decayed. Naunton is almost entirely composed of small thatched half-timber cottages. There is a Baptist chapel here, built in 1863, and a Wesleyan chapel at Ryall Grove.
Queenhill with Holdfast is on the right bank of the Severn. The church at Queenhill is situated within the park of Pull Court, the southern portion of which, with the mansion, is in the parish of Bushley. To the north of the church is a brick farm-house of no architectural interest, while further still to the northward, just outside the gate of the park, is a half-timbered cottage now transformed into a school. Here is also a gabled brick house of the 17th century, with plastered walls and modern bargeboards. At Holdfast, which is about a mile to the north of Queenhill, is some half-timber work of the normal type. On the east side of the road which runs northwards through the hamlet is a fair-sized H-shaped brick house of the later 17th century. Here the ground varies in height from 38 ft. on the banks of the river to 170 ft., the highest part of Heath Hill. The subsoil is Keuper Marl, the soil near the river alluvial, and in the west red marl. Agriculture and market gardening are the only industries.
Perry was probably made at Ripple at the beginning of the 17th century, when a certain John Raynolds was indicted for stealing perry-tree stocks there, (fn. 5) and one William Franklin was said to have sold perry to his neighbours without a licence. (fn. 6) Salmon fishing in the Severn was one of the industries of the parish in the 16th and 17th centuries, and several fishermen were among the recusants there in 1593. (fn. 7) In 1582 the Bishop of Worcester wrote to Walsingham complaining of two brothers called Moore, who were 'watermen dwelling hard upon Severn syde' and had masses said in their house which many Papists attended. He describes them as 'pore men but very dangerous,' and adds, 'I think there are not two woorse assorted anywhere of their calling that doo more harm.' (fn. 8) In 1613 many of the fishermen in the counties of Worcester and Shropshire complained that the men of Ripple, Holdfast and other places on the Severn were destroying the fish in the river by netting them 'with forestalling nets which reach from one side of the river to the other and from the top to the bottom,' taking about sixty salmon at a time. (fn. 9) Ripple Lock Stake was a wellknown point on the River Severn, above which only nets of a certain mesh might be used. (fn. 10)
The commons of Ripple were inclosed under an Act of 1801, (fn. 11) the award being dated 4 September 1807, (fn. 12) those of Queenhill in 1807 (fn. 13) and those of Holdfast in 1812. (fn. 14) The main road from Worcester to Tewkesbury passes through Ripple from north to south, and the road from Gloucester to Upton upon Severn through Holdfast.
Roman remains have been discovered near Bow Bridge. (fn. 15)
The manor of RIPPLE is said to have been granted in 680 by Oshere, King of the Hwiccas, to Frithowald, a monk of Wynfrid, ex-Bishop of Lichfield, (fn. 16) but the charter is spurious. Frithowald evidently gave the estate to the Bishop of Worcester, and it belonged to the see in 1086. With Upton upon Severn it contained at that time 25 hides which paid geld. The woodland was included in the king's forest of Malvern, and the bishop only had pannage and wood for firing and repairs, instead of 'the honey and the hunting and all the profits, and 10s. over and above,' which had belonged to him before the Conquest. (fn. 17)
The manor was valued at £36 3s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 18) at £57 11s. 10d. in 1535, the last sum including 100s. for the fee farm at Upton. (fn. 19) Ripple belonged to the Bishops of Worcester (fn. 20) until 1860, when it was transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 21) who are the present lords of the manor.
There was a mill at Ripple in 1086 (fn. 22) and a watermill and windmill in 1299. (fn. 23) Only one mill is mentioned in 1291, (fn. 24) and in 1302–3 a mill there was repaired. (fn. 25) There does not seem to have been any mill at Ripple in 1535 or in 1648.
HOLDFAST (Holenfesten, x cent.; Holefest, xi cent.; Halleffest, Holefeld, xiii cent.; Holfaste, xvi cent.) apparently belonged in the 10th century to the monks (clerici) of Worcester, for they gave it in exchange for Spetchley to Bishop Oswald, who leased it in 967 for three lives to his kinsman Osulf, with reversion to the bishop. (fn. 28) A similar lease was made in 988 by the same bishop to his nephew Alfwin. (fn. 29) Before the Conquest Holdfast was held by two priests of the bishop, but in 1086 the priests had been succeeded by Urse the Sheriff. (fn. 30) The bishop was still overlord at the end of the 13th century, (fn. 31) but after that date his rights appear to have lapsed. Urse's interest passed to the Beauchamps of Elmley, the manor being held of Elmley Castle until 1568, when the overlordship is mentioned for the last time. (fn. 32)
Holdfast was held of the Beauchamps by the Bracys. William Bracy held a hide of land at Holdfast about 1166, (fn. 33) and was still living in 1175–6, (fn. 34) but the land had passed by about 1182 to Richard Bracy. (fn. 35) Early in the 13th century the manor was held by Robert Bracy, (fn. 36) and from that time until 1315–16 it followed the same descent as Warndon (fn. 37) (q.v.). In that year Robert Bracy settled the reversion after his death on his son Fulk and Margery his wife. (fn. 38) Robert Bracy was still living in 1328, when he obtained a grant of free warren in Holdfast, (fn. 39) but died before 1346, when the manor was in the possession of William son of Robert Bracy. (fn. 40) From 1346 until the beginning of the 16th century there is no mention of Holdfast, but it is probable that it passed with Warndon (q.v.) to the Lygons, for Richard Lygon died seised of it in 1512. (fn. 41) It then descended with Warndon (fn. 42) until 1580, when Richard Lygon sold it to Henry Field, (fn. 43) whose niece and heir Anne married Sir William Whorwood. (fn. 44) Sir William sold it before 1610 to William Gower of the Woodhall family, who married Ann, Sir William Whorwood's daughter. (fn. 45) William Gower is described as 'the head of that spreadinge and lounge continuinge family' who 'made it [Holdfast] his habitation.' (fn. 46) William Gower died in 1647, and was succeeded by his son William, who died about 1679. (fn. 47) In 1683 it was purchased from George Gower son of William by Sir Nicholas Lechmere, the judge, (fn. 48) whose great-grandson Edmund (fn. 49) was holding it in 1732. (fn. 50) In 1763, although Edmund was still living, Holdfast appears to have been in the possession of his eldest son Nicholas, (fn. 51) but finally passed with the rest of Edmund's unentailed property to Anthony, his eldest son by his second wife, who was lord of the manor in 1812. (fn. 52) After that time the manor disappears, and probably became merged in that of Queenhill, which was also held by the Lechmeres.
QUEENHILL (Cunhille, Chonhelme, xi cent.; Queinhull, Cuhull, Kuhull, xiii cent.; Quenhull, xiv cent.; Quinhill, Quhill, Cuhull, xvii cent.) was a berewick of the manor of Ripple and held before the Conquest by Ailric or Æthelric, brother of Brihteah, Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 53) Soon after the Conquest it was evidently seized by William Earl of Hereford, since he gave the tithes to the abbey of Lire. (fn. 54) He must have granted the manor to Ralph de Bernai, one of his followers, who is said to have been tenant of Queenhill after the Conquest. The whole of Earl William's estate was forfeited by his son Roger in 1074, (fn. 55) and at the time of the Domesday Survey Queenhill was in the hands of the king, who held it of the bishop, (fn. 56) this being one of the few manors which the king so held. (fn. 57) The bishop's rights as overlord continued until the end of the 13th century, (fn. 58) but seem to have lapsed soon after. The king's interest in the manor passed with the manor of Hanley Castle (q.v.) to the Earls of Gloucester, the manor being said to be held of the honour of Gloucester in 1210–12. (fn. 59) Subsequently it was said to be held of the king in chief by the serjeanty of rendering one dog yearly. (fn. 60) In the 14th century this service was found to have been unpaid for several years, and both William de Kardiff and Edward his brother received pardons of the arrears due from them. (fn. 61) It was still paid in 1629, (fn. 62) but after that date there is no trace of it, and it was evidently allowed to lapse.
Robert Fitz Roy Earl of Gloucester gave this manor to William de Kardiff, (fn. 63) who was paying 2 marks for scutage in the county of Worcester (fn. 64) in 1158–9. He or a namesake held the manor in 1182 and at the beginning of the 13th century. (fn. 65) In 1275 Paul de Kardiff granted to the Master of St. Wulfstan's, Worcester, a rent in kind from the manor of Queenhill. (fn. 66) In 1279 he was one of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the conduct of the Sheriff of Worcester in distraining people to become knights. (fn. 67) He died about 1291, when his son William had seisin of his lands. (fn. 68) The latter died about 1309, (fn. 69) and his son Paul, who succeeded him, about 1315. (fn. 70) William son and heir of Paul was a supporter of Thomas Earl of Lancaster, and was imprisoned in Pickering Castle in 1322. (fn. 71) His estates were forfeited to the Crown, but restored on the accession of Edward III. (fn. 72) He died about 1331, leaving an only daughter Joan, (fn. 73) who was already married to John de Wincote, (fn. 74) and three years later she settled the manor on the heirs of her body. (fn. 75) After the death of John, about 1343, (fn. 76) Joan married Sir John de Hampton, who had purchased the custody of the lands and heirs of John de Wincote from Laurence Earl of Pembroke, and he also predeceased her. (fn. 77) John de Wincote is said to have had four daughters, (fn. 78) but only three, Margaret, Elizabeth and Eleanor, were living at the time of Joan's death in 1349, (fn. 79) and they all died of the Black Death within a year after her. (fn. 80) Soon after Joan's death a commission had been issued to two of the king's serjeants-at-law to find and bring to Gloucester Castle the heirs of John de Wincote, who had been taken away by some persons unknown and 'moved from place to place to prevent their being apprehended and brought to the king.' (fn. 81) Elizabeth, the last surviving daughter, is said to have died in the king's custody. In one inquisition her heirs are said to have been her sisters Margaret, afterwards called Elizabeth, and Ivetta, who were evidently her half-sisters and the daughters of John de Hampton, and in another her mother's uncle Edward Kardiff. (fn. 82) According to the settlement of 1334 Queenhill should have belonged to the sisters, but in 1350 Edward de Kardiff had seisin of it, (fn. 83) and in 1363 Elizabeth, then wife of John Bawdrip, and Ivetta wife of Robert Underhill surrendered their claim to him and his wife Joan. (fn. 84) He died seised in 1369, leaving a son Paul, (fn. 85) but the latter evidently died childless before his father's widow Joan, (fn. 86) who afterwards became the wife of Henry Grendour. (fn. 87) On her death in 1395 Queenhill was divided between the representatives of Elizabeth and Ivetta, viz. John Basset son of Agnes daughter of Elizabeth Bawdrip and Richard Ruyhale and Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 88) who had purchased the reversion of one moiety from Robert de Underhill and Ivetta. (fn. 89) John Basset died unmarried in 1396 and was succeeded by his brother Thomas, (fn. 90) who settled his property here on his wife Elizabeth in 1410. (fn. 91) His half of Queenhill appears to have been acquired before 1484 by Thomas Lygon (fn. 92) and sold by him or one of his successors to William Gower of Woodhall before 1544. (fn. 93)
Richard Ruyhale died seised of the other half in 1408, leaving a son Richard, (fn. 94) who died childless in 1424–5. (fn. 95) On the death of the latter his mother and her third husband, Richard Oldcastle, obtained a grant of this half of Queenhill from his uncle and heir Edmund Ruyhale. (fn. 96) Richard Oldcastle died childless in 1422, (fn. 97) and on the death of his widow Elizabeth, six years later, (fn. 98) the property reverted to John Merbury, Edmund Brugge and William Poleyn, the trustees of Edmund. (fn. 99) In 1443 Katherine widow of William Stoughton held it for life, of these trustees, who granted the reversion after her death to the Abbot and convent of Tewkesbury. (fn. 100)
This moiety passing to the Crown at the Dissolution was granted in 1543 to William and Thomas Sheldon, (fn. 101) being then valued at £6 1s. 10d. (fn. 102) They sold it in 1548 to Robert Gower son of the William Gower who held the other moiety, (fn. 103) and thus the two parts were reunited. The real value of the manor is said to have been £8 18s. 6d., (fn. 104) and shortly after purchasing it Robert Gower brought an action in the Court of Chancery against William Sheldon to gain possession of a meadow called Quenehome alias Underhome, which, owing to the wrong valuation, had been omitted in the sale of the manor to him. (fn. 105) At the time of his death in 1599 he was seised of the whole manor, (fn. 106) which followed the same descent as Colmers (fn. 107) in King's Norton (q.v.) until 1720, when the property of his descendants William and John Gower was sold for the payment of their debts. (fn. 108) Queenhill, which had been heavily mortgaged, was at first excepted from the sale and settled on William brother of John, with the request that if he died unmarried he should leave it to their kinsman Edward Thomas Hawkins, second son of Thomas Hawkins of Nash, co. Kent, on condition that he took the name of Gower. (fn. 109) However, in 1722 an Act was passed for the sale of Queenhill, (fn. 110) and it was purchased in 1724 by Nicholas Lord Lechmere. (fn. 111) In 1787 it was in the possession of Lord Lechmere's nephew and heir, Edmund Lechmere, who settled it on Anthony, his eldest son by his second wife. (fn. 112) The latter, who was created a baronet in 1818, (fn. 113) was holding the manor at that date, (fn. 114) but his son Sir Edmund Hungerford Lechmere sold it in 1852 to William Dowdeswell of Pull Court in Bushley, to whose son the Rev. Edmund Richard Dowdeswell it now belongs. (fn. 115)
A windmill at Queenhill was held with the manor in the 14th century, but is not mentioned again. (fn. 116)
A small estate at Queenhill, with a house called Barnes' House, was held for more than 200 years by the family of Barnes. In 1583 it was sold by Richard Barnes of Hindlip to John Barnes of Upton upon Severn, son of Nicholas Barnes, the late owner of the estate. From John it passed to his daughter Joan Etheridge, who was succeeded by her uncle Thomas Barnes. The estate remained with the family of Barnes until 1792, when it was sold by Thomas Barnes to Anthony Lechmere, who added it to his other estate at Queenhill. Twelve years before this sale Thomas Barnes had acquired, by his marriage with Dorothea daughter of John Knottesford, an estate at Holdfast, (fn. 117) held since the beginning of the 17th century by the Knottesfords. On the death of John Knottesford Barnes, son of Thomas and Dorothea, there was a lawsuit as to the next of kin, and eventually in 1857 the estate was bought by William Dowdeswell. It now belongs to his son the Rev. Edmund Richard Dowdeswell. (fn. 118)
RYALL (Ruyhale, xii cent.; Ryhal, xiii cent.; Ruhale, Ruyhale, xiv cent.; Rehale, xv cent.; Royall, Royalles Court, Ryolles Court, xvi cent.) is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey and was probably included in the manor of Ripple. It was held of the Bishop of Worcester, (fn. 119) the last mention of the overlordship being in 1641. (fn. 120)
Jordan held half a hide in Ryall about 1182, and for it had to go to the county and hundred courts for the bishop's men, and was one of the bishop's 'radmen.' (fn. 121) This half hide belonged to Roger Golafre in 1299. (fn. 122) No further deeds have been found connecting this family with Ripple until the 15th century, but it probably descended from father to son (fn. 123) until William Golafre sold or gave it to Robert Arderne (fn. 124) and John Spetchley, who were in possession in 1431. (fn. 125) They sold it in 1448–9 to John Vampage of Wick near Pershore and his son of the same name. (fn. 126) The latter brought a suit in Chancery against a certain Reynold, one of his father's trustees, for refusing to deliver up his estates. (fn. 127) He died before 1505, when his son Robert obtained from the king an inspeximus of the charters to his father and grandfather. (fn. 128) Robert died seised of the manor in 1516, leaving a son John, (fn. 129) who died childless in 1548 and was succeeded by his two sisters Mary and Dorothy widow of John Hugford or Higford, then wife of Thomas Winchcombe, (fn. 130) and by his nephew Edmund Harewell son of another sister Margaret. (fn. 131) Mary died childless, (fn. 132) and Ryall was divided between her sisters' children, Margaret daughter of Dorothy and wife of Thomas Hanford and Edmund Harewell. (fn. 133) Thomas and Margaret sold their share to Margery Lechmere in 1570, (fn. 134) and Edmund Harewell, son of the above Edmund, sold his to Thomas Coventry and his son Thomas in 1601. (fn. 135) The latter, (fn. 136) who became Lord Coventry in 1628, (fn. 137) died seised of this moiety in 1639–40 and was succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, (fn. 138) who in 1656 sold his share of Ryall to Nicholas Lechmere, (fn. 139) who had inherited the other half from his great-grandmother Margery Lechmere. (fn. 140) The so-called manor formed part of the settlement on Edmund Lechmere son of Nicholas on his marriage with Lucy Hungerford in 1674, and from that date until 1811 it passed with Holdfast (fn. 141) (q.v.). In 1816, however, it was conveyed by John Glasse and Susan his wife to Sir James Graham and Sir Edmund Antrobus. (fn. 142) Before 1831 it had been acquired by George William Earl of Conventry, (fn. 143) to whose grandson, the present earl, a farm called Ryalls Court now belongs.
In 1249 the Bishop of Worcester gave a carucate of land in Ryall to John de Ruyhale in exchange for a hide of land in Alvechurch. (fn. 144) This John died before 1254, when we have a reference to his widow. (fn. 145) The estate seems to have been in the possession of Isabel de Ruyhale c. 1280, (fn. 146) and of Joan Ruyhale in 1332–3. (fn. 147) In 1399, when it is first described as a manor, it was settled with a moiety of Queenhill (q.v.) on Richard Ruyhale and Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 148) and afterwards on the latter's second and third husbands, John Philipot (fn. 149) and Richard Oldcastle. (fn. 150) It is uncertain what became of it on the death of Elizabeth, but it probably passed to the Harewells and Hanfords, owners of the other manor of Ryall, who are stated by Nash to have been heirs of the Ruyhales. (fn. 151)
The right of free fishing in the Seven was held with the estate at Ryalls Court in 1603, (fn. 152) and was conveyed by Edmund and Thomas Lechmere to Sir Nicholas Overbury and Giles Overbury in 1635. (fn. 153)
Half a hide of land at NAUNTON (Newentone, xii cent.; Nounton, xiii cent.) was given by Bishop Theulf (1115–25) to Auda 'Vitrarius,' from whom it was bought in the time of Bishop Simon (1125–50) by Adam de Croome. (fn. 154) It followed the same descent as Earl's Croome until 1299, (fn. 155) but its descent after that time has not been traced. It may have formed part of the endowment of the chantry of Ripple, which is called in 1374 and 1375 the chantry of Newton or Newynton and Ripple. (fn. 156)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the king held of the bishop 1 hide of land at a place called BURSLEY (Burgelege) which had belonged to Brictric son of Algar. (fn. 157) It is mentioned in 1182 and again in the Testa de Nevill and in 1299 as being held by the king, (fn. 158) and probably after that date was annexed to the manor of Queenhill. The name has now disappeared, but Mr. Round identifies it with Borsley Lodge, which occurs in an inscription quoted by Nash, and with Borley House, which is marked on the earlier ordnance survey maps and was between Holdfast and Queenhill. (fn. 159)
The hamlet of SAXONS LODE (Cestrelade, xii cent.; Sextaneslade, xiii cent.) was held at the end of the 12th century as half a hide of land by Jordan of Ryall and had previously been held by Martin Coti for the service of being 'radman.' (fn. 160) It was held in the 13th and 14th centuries by a family called De la Lode, atte Lode or Sestanslade. (fn. 161) In 1590 it was in the possession of John Woodward alias Smyth, (fn. 162) who settled it on his son Thomas. The latter died in 1636 seised of the capital messuage or farm called 'Sextons Loade,' (fn. 163) which passed to his daughter Katherine, (fn. 164) who married John Dormer and was the mother of Sir Robert Dormer the judge. (fn. 165)
The parish church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 41 ft. by 16 ft. 6 in., central tower 15 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft., north and south transepts, each 16 ft. by 20 ft. 6 in., nave 68 ft. 10 in. by 20 ft., aisles 70 ft. 6 in. by 7 ft. 10 in., and a north porch 12 ft. by 11 ft. These measurements are all internal.
The whole of the structure, which is built of limestone with stone-slabbed roofs, is of the original date, c. 1195–1200, and is a good example of a complete transition church. A local tradition that the church was part of a Benedictine establishment is without foundation, though colour is lent to it by the length of the chancel.
The original building has been very little altered. In the latter part of the 13th century the chancel appears to have been remodelled by the insertion of ranges of large windows on the north and south, and of a priest's door on the north, forming part of the scheme. These alterations are in Kenilworth stone, which is also used for heavy buttresses, added, doubtless at the same time, to the chancel, north transept, and west and south walls of the nave, which are considerably out of the perpendicular. The east window of the chancel and the west window of the nave are of the 15th century, when buttresses were added at the north-east and south-east angles of the chancel, and the pitch of the roofs was altered throughout the church. In the 16th century the easternmost windows of the aisles were enlarged and two-light windows were inserted at the east end of the clearstory. In 1713 the top of the tower, whose spire had been struck by lightning on 18 December 1583, was taken down and was rebuilt to a greater height, and in 1797 the tower was again repaired and raised, the uppermost stage being now of the latter date. The upper stage of the porch was built at the same time, blocking one of the clearstory windows. It was probably at this time that the south transept was walled off from the tower crossing up to the crown of the arch, and a vestry, since removed, built on the south side. The modern repairs, recently undertaken, include the unblocking and repair of the south transept window and the clearing out of the external plaster blocking of the south aisle door and the clearing of the south arch of the crossing from the crown to the spring.
The east wall of the chancel has a large 15th-century window of five lights, set within the shafted jambs of the original 13th-century set of arcaded lancets. There is a moulded string at the sill level. The north and south walls each contain at the east a single-light window of the latter half of the 13th century, with tracery in the head, and three windows each of three lights in a drop-centred head, with clumsy chamfered mullions and spandrels roughly pierced with quatrefoils and trefoils. The westernmost window on each side is much distorted by a settlement of the tower, and is blocked, that on the north showing the tracery on both sides, but that on the south on the exterior only. Under the second three-light window, in the north wall, and having a hood rising into its sill, is a priest's door. A moulded string runs at the sill level on each side, that on the north rising over the segmental outline of the hood of the priest's door. The stones of the original walling are visible in the splays of the windows and are of bluish-white hard limestone.
The central tower rests on massive piers having keel-moulded responds with scalloped capitals of a late type, and angle shafts with stiff-leaf foliage on the inner angles and on the nave faces of the western piers. The capitals of the shafts in all four internal angles of the tower remain, but the eastern pair of shafts are gone. The western pair which remain are keel-moulded. Above the capitals are signs of the spring of a crossing-vault, but the crossing is now ceiled, with a heavy beam running from crown to crown of the north and south arches. The east and west arches are pointed and of two orders, plain on the east. The western arch on the nave side is contained within a continuous sunk quarter-round, under a hood mould returned at the ends to the nave walls. The arch itself is of two orders, the inner resting on the large keeled responds with square scalloped capitals, and the outer on a small angle shaft like those in the internal angles of the crossings. The inner order is plain and the outer a three-quarter round. Outside them both is a continuous sunk quarter-round, and the whole is inclosed in a label returned to the north and south walls of the nave. The north and south arches of the crossing are of plain orders on plain hollow-chamfered imposts. Behind the northern arch is the organ, which stands in the north transept. The southern arch has a filling of brick to the springing level, pierced by a narrow doorway to the south transept, now the vestry.
The upper stages of the tower, accessible by a ladder from the north transept, have been altered in level, probably when the vaulting was removed, and the heavy floor corbels and the stepped splays of the original windows of the first stage, now blocked, are visible internally. The bell-chamber, which is in the 18th-century part, is well lighted by two-light pseudo-Gothic windows on all four sides, filled with wooden lattice, and the tower is surmounted by a balustrade and pinnacles of bad but not ineffective design. The weathering of all the original roof is visible on the faces of the tower.
The north and south transepts are to all intents and purposes identical. Each has a broad shallow altar recess (5 ft. 1 in. by 1 ft.) low down in the east wall, with a plain round head. On the north side of the arch of the recess in the north transept is a face with some other traces of early 13th-century painting. In the north wall of the north and the south wall of the south transept are large and well-designed windows, slightly later in date than the north and south windows of the chancel; both are of three acutely-pointed lights in a two-centred head, with pierced spandrels between the heads of the lights. In the north end of the west wall of the north transept is a modern round-headed external doorway, and high up in the southern end of the wall is a wide round-headed window of original date. In the south transept is a similar window, now blocked. In each transept is a wide doorway with a semicircular head, plain on the transept side, but continuously moulded with a sunk quarter-round on the side towards the aisles, into which the doorways open. The voussoirs of these arches are of green, grey and white limestone set at random. Externally there is a large Kenilworth stone buttress of late 13th-century date at the east end of the north wall of the north transept, which leans outwards.
The nave arcades are of six bays with labelled two-centred arches of two orders, the outer moulded in each case with a small chamfer and a roll at the angle, and the inner with a deep plain chamfer resting on piers quatrefoil on plan, with capitals of various late scalloped types, some looking almost like the roughing out of stiff-leaf foliage. The east responds are semicircular, but those at the west had originally sunk and detached shafts, one on the face and one in each angle, with corresponding capitals and bases. The shafts are now all gone, but the foliated capitals remain. The clearstory has six windows on each side, the easternmost in each case being 16th-century two-light insertions and the remainder original single pointed lights with internal splays. The latter are set over the piers, not over the arch-crowns. The west window is of five lights with vertical tracery in a pointed head. The west doorway is original and has a deeply-moulded external pointed head on moulded jambs having two detached shafts with good foliated capitals on either side. There is a hood mould with grotesque head stops of an early character, and of a different stone from the rest, apparently re-used.
The aisles are both alike. In the east wall of each is the round-headed doorway described with the transepts to which they open. In the north wall the easternmost window is of two lights, and is a 16th-century insertion. To east and west of the north doorway, which is raised two steps above the floor level, and has a round head, with well-developed external mouldings on shafted jambs with foliated capitals, are two original single pointed lights considerably repaired with wide internal splays. The north porch, which is nearly square, has an entrance doorway with chamfered jambs and a pointed head with billet moulding over it. In the four angles are the original corbels for a vault now gone. The upper story, which has a pseudo-Gothic window in the north face over the door, is an 18th-century addition, and is only accessible by a doorway high up in the north end of the east wall, to which there is no permanent stairway. The walls of the upper story are carried across the aisle roof without other support than its timbers, and are only lath and plaster in their southernmost portion. The roof of the porch blocks part of one of the clearstory windows.
The south aisle windows are also five in number, the easternmost, third and fourth being modern and of two lights, copied from the 16th-century window in the north aisle, and the second and fifth original single lights like those of the north aisle. Between the third and fourth windows is the south doorway, now blocked, and showing a pointed recess internally, while externally it has a pointed head of two moulded orders resting on shafted jambs with foliated capitals. Externally there are original buttresses between the first and second and second and third windows, and on either side of the south door, and to the west of the last window are heavy Kenilworth stone buttresses of four offsets, added in the second half of the 13th century for the support of the wall, which leans considerably outwards. On the west front of the church a similar buttress of five offsets and of 4 ft. 6 in. projection counteracts a similar tendency at the junction of the nave and north aisle, and is matched at the junction of the nave and south aisle by a flat pilaster buttress of original date.
All the roofs are eaved and appear to date from the 15th century. The kneelers of the east gable of the chancel, carved with grotesques, are original, together with the coping and gable cross. The corbel tables of nave and chancel are also original throughout, and consist of a plain double roll.
In the chancel are fourteen fine stalls with moulded elbow rests and carved misereres of 15th-century date. The misereres, which appear to represent the twelve months, together with the sun and moon, are in very fine condition. There are two duplicate misereres, apparently also original, hanging in the south transept. There was a screen within living memory, but this has been destroyed, and fragments of it worked into the door to the south transept from the crossing, and into a partition in the transept itself, show it to have been of early 15th-century work. The altar rail, of a slender baluster pattern, is said to be Laudian, but is probably of the late 17th century, together with the panelling along the walls from the sanctuary to the stalls.
In the south windows of the chancel are some fragments of white and gold 15th-century glass, including some very beautiful heads. In the blocking of the north-west window of the chancel are two brass inscriptions, one commemorating John Woodward, yeoman of the guard to King Philip and Queen Elizabeth, who died in 1596, and another commemorating his grandson, who died in 1668. There are no other monuments of interest. In the churchyard are the bases of two crosses, one to the north of the north porch, retaining the lower part of the shaft, the other at the north-east corner of the churchyard, having an 18th-century sundial set in it. The base of a third cross is hollowed out and used as a pump-trough in the yard on the north side of the rectory.
The six bells are all of 1808, and bear inscriptions reading from one bell to another. They were cast at Gloucester by John Rudhall.
The communion plate includes an Elizabethan silver cup of the usual pattern, bearing the London date letter for 1571, and a cup, paten, flagon and almsdish inscribed 'Sacrum Ecclesiae de Ripple in com. Vigorn. Rectore Roberto Lucas S.T.P. 1793.' Besides these pieces there are two copper almsdishes, one of the 15th century, the other a modern copy. They were at one time lined with red velvet, but this has been removed. In a large plain 17th-century chest in the south transept, which also contains the registers and churchwardens' accounts, are kept a spherical bronze censer (fn. 166) of early 13th-century workmanship, which was found when an 18th-century vestry was demolished, and a 17th-century pewter flagon.
The registers include several volumes of the registers of Queenhill. They are as follows:—Ripple: (i) mixed entries 1558 to 1701, with a note of the first burial in Hill Croome churchyard, 1591, and register of briefs 1660 to 1662; (ii) baptisms and burials 1702 to 1802, marriages 1702 to 1762; (iii) marriages 1755 to 1789; (iv) marriages 1789 to 1812; (v) baptisms 1803 to 1812. There are also two books of banns from 1754 to 1774 and 1775 to 1794. Queenhill: (i) mixed entries 1585 to 1701; (ii) burials 1789 to 1812, baptisms 1791 to 1811; (iii) marriages 1754 to 1782.
The church of ST. LAURENCE, Queenhill, formerly dedicated in honour of St. Nicholas, consists of a chancel 22 ft. 11 in. by 14 ft. 8 in.; nave 35 ft. by 18 ft. 4 in.; west tower 8 ft. 9 in. by 7 ft. 10 in.; and a modern south porch of timber. These measurements are all internal.
It is probable that a church has stood on this site since the end of the 11th century. A fragment of the sculptured head of a small round-arched light, now built into the north wall of the nave, cannot well be later. The earliest details now in situ are the late 12th-century south doorway and the jambs of a blocked north doorway of the same date. The former has evidently been reset, probably in the 14th century, to which date belong the original windows of the nave, the walls of which were probably rebuilt at this period. The chancel is a rebuilding of the 13th century, and the west tower is contemporary with the renovation of the nave. The church was thoroughly restored and repaired in 1854.
The east window of the chancel, inserted late in the 15th century, is of three cinquefoiled lights under a straight-sided pointed head. There are two original early 13th-century lancets with square external rebates in each side wall. Between the two south windows is a small doorway with a plain chamfered two-centred external head and a rear arch of the same form. At the south-east is a plain square piscina niche, from which the basin has disappeared. There is no chancel arch. The walling is of rubble masonry with wrought sandstone dressings, and there is a plain chamfered plinth-mould. The east gable, which is of ashlar work, was probably rebuilt when the east window was inserted.
The north-east window of the nave is of three trefoil-headed ogee lights with pierced spandrels under a square head, and dates from the late 14th century. At the north-west is a modern window of the same design. Between them are the internal jambs and semicircular rear arch of a blocked doorway. The head has been much restored. In the south wall are two windows, each of two lights, of the same general type as those of the north wall. The jambs of the easternmost appear to be original, but the tracery is modern. The westernmost window appears to have been entirely renewed. The south doorway between these two windows is of the late 12th century, and was probably reset in the 14th century. It seems originally to have been of two elaborately moulded round-arched orders, the outer having shafted jambs with a pelleted label. As reset, the stones of the orders have been mixed up, with the result that the present outer order has had to be made out with two stones from the inner, suggesting that their positions have been reversed. The jamb shafts have scalloped capitals; the chamfered abaci have been misplaced, and their bases have disappeared. A two-centred segmental head has been inserted under the semicircular head of the inner order. Externally there are restored buttresses of two offsets at the east end of the north and south walls. The walling is of rubble, and the lower courses are perhaps those of the original building. The western angles have been very drastically repaired.
The tower is of three stages, with diagonal buttresses of three offsets at the western angles, and a plain chamfered plinth. The tower arch has a single continuously moulded chamfered order on the nave side, with an outer order on the west dying on to the wall face. The ringing-stage is lighted by a single trefoiled light on the west and the bell-chamber by windows of two trefoiled lights. A modern saddleback roof crowns the whole.
The roof of the chancel is modern. That of the nave has a plaster ceiling, but the tie-beams, which are exposed, are probably of the 14th century.
In the churchyard to the south of the church are the base and lower part of the stem of a 14th-century cross. The upper part, with the cross itself, has recently been renewed.
The bowl of the font is modern, but the cable-moulded circular base is probably of the 12th century. The altar-table, rails and pulpit are Jacobean, the latter crowned by fragments of a carved and pierced vine cornice, probably belonging to the chancel screen, which is an excellent specimen of late 15th-century woodwork in very fair preservation. The central opening has a four-centred head with plain spandrels, while the bays of the screen on either side have traceried open lights with plain panelling below. In the north-west window of the nave are fragments of late 14th-century glass, including the head of a female figure in a green robe, wimple, and white hood with a yellow border, and the hands of another figure pointing to an alphabet, evidently portion of a St. Anne teaching the Virgin. There are also several bits of canopy work of the same period and a fragment of an inscription in Gothic capitals.
Set against the south wall of the nave is a curious incised alabaster slab, which was formerly in the floor of the church, commemorating Henry Field of King's Norton, who died in 1584, his first wife Anna, who died in 1572, and his second wife Sybil, who apparently survived him, as the date of her death is left blank. Upon the slab are their three figures incised in outline; the inscription is much decayed. At the south-west of the chancel, upon the wall, is a small brass plate with the following inscription:—
'If any aske who lyes wthin this tombe
Tell them Nick Barnes hath taken up ye roome,
Who godly dide & lived an honest life
& soe did prove to kindred frend & wife,
his body rests, his soule still daily singes
glory and praise unto ye king of kinges
Obiit xv die decembris a. dı MDCXXIII.'
On the north wall of the nave is an elaborate mural tablet to Margaret Knottesford, who died in 1725, aged eighteen, and below, on a brass plate, are commemorated her parents, Richard Knottesford, who died in 1768, and Martha his wife, who died in 1761. The remaining monuments, ranging in date from the end of the 17th century to modern times, are of no great interest.
There are four bells, inscribed as follows: treble: 'Peace and good Neighbourhood A. R. 1718'; (2) 'Edwd. Serman Michaell Powell Ch: Wardens 1718' (these two were evidently cast by Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester); (3) 'William Such William Cox C:W: 1680 I.M.' (for John Martin of Worcester); tenor: 'John Barnes and Nicholas Toune churchwardens 1602.'
The plate consists of a small silver cup, with the date-letter much worn, but probably of about 1650; a silver paten, the marks of which are also indecipherable, probably of the same period; a modern silver chalice; a pewter flagon, inscribed 'Queenhill 1679'; and a pewter almsdish, inscribed 'Ex dono Jo: Harding 1677.'
Besides the registers at present kept at Ripple there is at Queenhill a volume containing baptisms and burials from 1733 to 1789 and marriages from 1733 to 1754.
The church of St. Mary, Ripple, may have existed at the time of the Norman Conquest, having possibly been served by the two priests here, mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 167) The advowson has always belonged to the Bishops of Worcester. (fn. 168) In 1291 the value of the church with a chapel was £26 13s. 4d., (fn. 169) and by the time of the Dissolution it had increased in value to £42 6s. 8d. (fn. 170)
In the 12th and 13th centuries the parson of Ripple held 2 acres, for which he was bound to provide a lamp burning before the altar of St. James in the church of Ripple. (fn. 171) There was formerly a custom in the parish that on the death of the head of any family who owned live stock his second best animal, or the best if the lord did not claim it, should be given to the rector. (fn. 172) In 1437 John Baldwin was excommunicated for trying to evade this by giving his animals, during his illness, to a cousin. On his recovery he was made to walk round the churchyard with bare head and feet for three Sundays, holding a torch in his hand. (fn. 173)
Among the well-known men who have been rectors of Ripple were Thomas Rotherham, afterwards Archbishop of York, Robert Lucas the poet, and John Webb the antiquary. Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London (1540–59), is also said to have held the living. (fn. 174)
In 1319 John Salemon, clerk, obtained licence to found a chantry in the church of St. Mary, Ripple, dedicated in honour of our Lady. (fn. 175) The chantry was ordained in 1320, and the endowment, consisting of a messuage and land in Stratford in the parish of Ripple, supported two chaplains to celebrate divine service daily. The advowson belonged to the said John Salemon during his life, (fn. 176) then to Philip David, one of the first chantry priests, and after his death to the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 177) In 1438–9 the chantry is called that of St. Peter, (fn. 178) and in 1448 the chantry, which had been 'desolated by poverty of emoluments,' was newly ordained by the bishop, who provided that there should be one chantry priest only, appointed by himself and his successors, to celebrate masses twice a week, on feast days and on the Thursday in Pentecost for the anniversary of the founder. (fn. 179) The possessions of the chantry were granted in 1549 to John Harford of Bosbury, Hereford, and Richard Willison of Ledbury. (fn. 180)
There was formerly a chapel, dedicated in honour of St. Laurence, at Holdfast, dependent upon the mother church of Ripple. (fn. 181) In Habington's time the inhabitants of Holdfast attended the church of Queenhill, and their chapel was 'so dangerously deformed with ruins' that he 'scarce durst looke into itt.' He mentions a painting on the south wall of a 'younge Kinge ryding on a red lyon.' (fn. 182) The chapel has now entirely disappeared, but the site is still called Chapel Ground.
The church at Queenhill is probably the chapel which was valued with the church of Ripple in 1291. (fn. 183) It became the church of the newly-formed parish of Queenhill in 1880, (fn. 184) and is in the gift of the Bishop of Worcester.
The tithes of Queenhill were granted with half a virgate of land there to the abbey of St. Mary, Lire, by William Earl of Hereford, (fn. 185) and were included with the other possessions of Lire in the endowment of Sheen Priory by Henry V. After the Dissolution they were granted to John Williams and Anthony Stringer, (fn. 186) but must have been alienated by them shortly afterwards, as in 1554 Philip King sold them to Henry Field. (fn. 187) Before 1605 they were in the possession of Henry Shawe and Elizabeth his wife, who then sold them to Francis and William Symcox, (fn. 188) and they, after holding for about six years, conveyed them to Henry Hobday and Humphrey his third son. (fn. 189) In 1650 they were purchased by Thomas Barnes, (fn. 190) and they were subsequently acquired by the rector of Ripple and the lord of the manor of Queenhill. (fn. 191)
The charity lands derived under the will of Thomas Morris alias Woodward, dated in 1675, and from other sources, now consist of cottages and 37 a. 3 r. 26 p. situated in the parishes of Ripple, Twyning, Upton upon Severn and Earl's Croome, acquired for the most part under the Inclosure Act, of the gross yearly rental value of £118. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners 26 January 1892, as varied by orders of 1896 and 1902, whereby one moiety of the net income is directed to be paid to the vicar and churchwardens for the maintenance and repair of the fabric of the church, and the other moiety to be applied for the general benefit of the poor. In 1910 the sum of £39 was paid to the churchwardens, £19 15s. was distributed in coal, £4 4s. was paid to the Worcester Infirmary, £7 to a boot club, £2 2s. to a pig club and the residue in money gifts.
The Rev. Dr. Holt, at a date unknown, gave £20 for the use of poor persons not in receipt of parochial relief. This gift is represented by £19 18s. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends of which, amounting to 9s. 8d., are paid to the National school account.
In 1882 Mrs. Henry Frances Clifton, by her will proved at London 21 March, left a legacy, now represented by £979 3s. 10d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £24 9s. 4d., to be applied in the distribution of coals on 12 February in memory of donor's husband, who died on that day.
In 1884 Mrs. Mary Woodward, by deed dated 17 May in that year, declared the trusts of a sum of £250 London and North Western Railway 4 per cent. debenture stock, the annual dividends thereof, amounting to £10 a year, to be applied for the benefit of the poor not in receipt of parochial relief in such manner as would encourage thrift, education and temperance.
There are also in this parish four almshouses for four aged persons.
Hamlet of Holdfast.
—Mrs. Ann Bowyer alias Gower, at a date unknown, gave to the poor 1 a. lying in Upton Lower Ham and also two beasts' pastures. A sum of £4 4s. yearly is received as rent, which is distributed in doles of money varying from 2s. 6d. to 10s. to each recipient.
—In 1870 Philip Roberts, by will proved at Gloucester 17 December, left a legacy, now represented by £287 12s. 4d. consols with the official trustees, the annual dividends, amounting to £7 3s. 8d., to be applied as to £1 in payment to the minister of the Baptist chapel, Barton Street, Tewkesbury, for preaching a sermon yearly on the anniversary of the donor's death, and on the following Lord's day a sermon at the Baptist chapel, Naunton, 5s. for keeping in order his burial-place, and the residue in promoting the preaching of the Gospel at Naunton Baptist Chapel.
—The charity of — Grice, date of foundation unknown, consists of £31 11s. 9d. consols with the official trustees, producing 15s. 8d. a year, which is applied by the vicar and churchwardens for the benefit of the poor of this hamlet.